Whether you’re an office worker or a dedicated hardcore gamer, you spend a more significant part of your day seated on your chair. With the scientifically proven detrimental effects of prolonged sitting, ergonomic chairs come in handy to protect your lumbar spine and make you productive or enhance your gaming performance. Ergonomic chairs are all the rave these days, and based on the intended area of use; they come with some pretty nifty features. Essential features in these ergonomic chairs include lumbar support, adjustable headrests, adjustable height, and the ability to reposition the armrests.
Gamers and office workers make up the most significant percentage of the market share in the ergonomic chair business. A gamer could go for an ergonomic chair, while a manager could ask for a gaming chair in his office- it’s not unheard of. However, how does the design of these chairs aid in the user’s productivity? In regards to design, functionality, and features, there are significant differences between the two. It is an open secret that Gaming Chairs are designed for aesthetics, while Office Chairs are built for comfort- with each dabbling a little in the other’s forte.
Here's a look at the major differences between ergonomic office chairs and ergonomic gaming chairs to enable you to simplify your decision when making your ergonomic chair purchase.
Gaming Chairs Explained
The design of gaming chairs borrows heavily from the race car seat industry. They are visually appealing with a sleek bucket seat design, tall reclining backrest, bright colors, racing stripes, logos, and an overall aesthetically pleasing look. Gaming chairs’ design also comes with impressive ergonomic highlights such as a thick padded seat, lumbar pillows, multifunction tilt mechanism, adjustable neck, and 3D or 4D adjustable armrest, among other features.
Most gaming chairs also come with a backrest recline function allowing users to lean comfortably while taking intermittent gaming breaks. Generally speaking, gaming chairs prioritize design over comfort and may not offer as many comfort or sitting customization options as high-end office chairs. However, this is not to say they do not offer any support at all.
There are three primary types of gaming chairs: PC and racing, rocker, and floor gaming chairs.
PC & Racing Gaming Chairs- These gaming chairs closely resemble sports car seats in terms of design. They feature tall, padded backrests with a sleek, highly adjustable design and additional ergonomic features. Racing gaming chairs are primarily used for playing PC video games while seated at a desk. These gaming chairs are trendy, super sturdy, and very comfortable.
Floor Gaming Chairs- Floor gaming chairs come in different designs, including a structureless chair form that resembles floor cushions and semi-structured chairs that take after rocker chairs. They are the least expensive of all gaming chair types and have little to no extra features. Floor gaming chairs are ideal for casual console players seeking a comfortable perch on the floor.
Rocker- As the name implies, rocker gaming chairs are essentially gaming chairs placed on the floor and rock back and forth, creating a soothing sensation. Their resting position can easily be adjusted, but the height is not adjustable. Once seated, users rest their legs on the ground. Rocker gaming chairs are ideal for console video games; it allows players to play from a distance seamlessly. They are also perfect for use in multiplayer game setups.
Ergonomic Office Chairs
Office chairs are designed for formal office environments. They may not be as "cool-looking" as gaming chairs, but they offer outstanding comfort and ergonomics. Like gaming chairs, ergonomic office chairs provide several adjustments or customization options to accommodate different body sizes, shapes, and heights. They also come in various designs and materials - mesh is the most common type of material on an office chair because it's built to breathe with you while sitting; leather offers a more classic look that some people prefer over other alternatives like fabric or faux-leather upholstery.
Gaming Chairs vs Ergonomic Office Chairs- Comparison
Gaming chairs can often be seen as the alternative to ergonomic office chairs. They are comfortable, come in a variety of colors and shapes, they're sleek and stylish (according to gamers' taste). With gaming chairs rising in popularity, it is worth noting how much better these modern designs have been made over time. But can they really hold up a torch to the already immensely popular ergonomic chair?
Here's a comparison between gaming chairs and ergonomic office chairs in terms of design and aesthetics, comfort, ergonomics, price, accessories, and extras. For the purpose of this comparison, we’ll be comparing mid-to-high-end office chairs to racing gaming chairs.
There's a clear difference between the designs of a contemporary ergonomic office chair and a racing-style gaming chair. Gaming chairs' designs are heavily inspired by the racing industry seats. Gaming chairs feature ergonomic designs with a bucket seat design, fixed headrest, adjustable arms, thick padding, and tall backrest.
On the other end, standard office chairs have rather a discrete design with simple features. Most mid-range models come with fixed armrests, fixed backrest, rocking function, and non-padded seats. Office chairs are usually upholstered from either mesh, leather, or fabric with subdued shades of black and grey.
Gaming chairs are usually upholstered from faux leather with bright colors. They are also much bigger and heavier than standard office chairs.
The comparison here is like night and day! When it comes to aesthetics and branding, the difference between a gaming chair and an office chair is quite enormous. Gaming chairs, as a standard, are aesthetically pleasing, considering they prioritize appearance over anything else. They come in bright colors, thick padding throughout the seat, and logos/emblems embedded on their headrests. A gaming chair should easily turn heads and steal the spotlight in a gaming Livestream.
On the contrary, office chairs take a rather subtle approach when it comes to aesthetics. They are more focused on user comfort with a modern, sleek aspect to fit in contemporary office spaces. They feature dull colors such as black, silver, grey, and leather. A company might decide to secure a discreet tag here or there for anti-theft purposes, but hardly will you see a full-on logo on an office chair. They should fade into the background of the calm and serious nature of the workspace.
Ergonomics and Comfort
It's no surprise that office and gaming chairs are ergonomically designed, but how do they compare? What about lumbar support for both types of chairs? How adjustable is the seat height on each type of chair, as well as their other features like functionality to ensure human wellness and productivity can be supported? Let’s take a look.
Lumbar support is a critical aspect of ergonomics. Lumbar support facilitates proper sitting posture to alleviate the effects of prolonged sitting, such as increased lower backpressure. Both gaming and office chairs offer pretty much the same lumbar support. High-end office chairs and gaming chairs come with adjustable lumbar support, which can be adjusted to meet the desired support level. Budget or low-end office chairs and cheaper-option gaming chairs don't offer lumbar support or feature a fixed lumbar pillow, thus providing limited lumbar support.
What sets aside the lumbar support function on gaming chairs is that most high-end gaming chairs feature additional lumbar support in the form of a padded lumbar cushion. This lumbar cushion can be detached and moved higher or lower to support the support back regions that a user may find ideal. Therefore, while lumbar support is pretty much the same across the two types of ergonomic seats, gaming chairs may just have a greater level of lumbar support.
The armrest is a vital ergonomic requirement that takes the weight off your neck and shoulders. In-office chairs, low-end models often have fixed arms while mid-range and high-end options offer various adjustability features like 3D or 4D movement; meaning up/down, forward/backward, inward to outward twisting adjustment angles - all designed to take the burden of being stuck in one position for long periods away from you!
The catch with armrests on gaming chairs is that adjustable armrests are a standard at whatever budget point. This beats low-cost office chairs. What's more, armrests may not be a crucial requirement for office workers owing to their working patterns. Armrests on office chairs are often not preferred as they can hinder the chair's ability to get under the desk or access resources such as the keyboard drawer (in case it's present on the desk).
In summary, while office chairs offer decent armrests, the nature of most workplaces does not prioritize this particular function. Alternately, gaming chairs need to provide excellent armrest ergonomics to alleviate stress exerted on the wrist while gaming due to repeated actions.
Office chairs rarely have adjustable back support pillows that can be adjusted to fit your body for additional back support. This is a huge downside when it comes down to office ergonomics because most of the time, people are sitting in an improper posture, which means prolonged hours spent in front of their computer screens will result in health problems such as spinal cord inflammation and weakened immune system due to poor circulation. Gaming chairs excel when it comes to maintaining proper posture, thanks in part to the padded lumbar cushioning. It is not only great for aesthetics but also for ensuring that gamers can change sitting positions and remain supported.
While it's optional, a headrest is a vital ergonomic feature that provides maximum support to your head while leaning back to take periodic rest, pick calls, read or perform tasks that don't require any head movement. In addition, a headrest relieves pressure from neck muscles and helps reduce tension from the shoulder, enabling individuals to remain comfortable and maintain the correct posture. Most mid-range to high-end ergonomic office chairs come with either fixed or adjustable headrests that can be tilted in and out or moved up and down.
Gaming chairs usually don’t feature headrests. Instead, a fixed or adjustable neck pillow is used to support the head when reclining. As such, ergonomic office chairs have better head and neck support compared to gaming chairs. While the neck pillow can be adjusted to offer the needed support, it’s not the standard headrest required for maximum support and comfort.
Gaming chairs excel in reclining and are capable of reclining 135-180 degrees to the back. Ergonomists have long established that 135 degrees are the best angle for prolonged sitting to eliminate the buildup of pressure on the lower spine disc- and gaming chairs provide that seamlessly. For console gamers who don’t interact with much of their desk, getting in a reclined position makes sense and comes in handy to enable gamers to avoid backaches and spine injuries.
Very few ergonomic office chairs support reclining up to 135 degrees. In fact, that would be a very awkward workplace posture, considering that you’ll have to strain your arms, shoulders, neck, and wrists while working on your desk. Verdict: reclining in an office is not good ergonomics unless you’re taking a short break from work.
An ergonomic office chair is designed to resemble a waterfall, while a gaming chair takes the shape of a bucket seat. Generally, they don't serve any particular ergonomic purpose other than providing comfort. The bucket seat provides a more immersive gaming experience but is more of an aesthetic feature.
Waterfall seats in ergonomic office chairs play a more ergonomic role, supporting the hips and back legs region and taking pressure off the lumbar region. Additionally, unlike office chairs, gaming chairs rarely offer seat pan adjustability, further compromising on ergonomics.
Ergonomic office chairs carry the trophy in this round.
Additional Accessories and Extras
What more can you get from your chair? Standard office chairs don't usually come with any extras or accessories-what you see is what you get. Manufacturers ship your package encasing only the necessary assembly parts and user manuals.
The case is different from gaming chairs. Gaming chairs come with some great additions and accessories that enhance the overall sitting experience. Depending on the model and price point, gaming chairs ship out some essential add-ons, such as extra adjustable neck and lumbar cushions and retractable footrest. High-end gaming chairs play an entirely different ball game with plush additions such as a built-in massage unit, in-built vibration, Bluetooth speakers in the headrest, which work conjointly to offer an immersive gaming experience.
With the extra add-ons in gaming chairs, it's apparent that they retail at a higher price point than office chairs. Gaming chairs range anywhere between £150 / $200 to £400 / $500 depending on the specifications and add-ons. An office chair in the same class retail between £50 / $80 and £200 / $300- a bit cheaper. Of course, the price is always dependent on the specs, features, quality, extras, or accessories. High-end office and gaming chairs are pretty expensive, but the derivative value is immeasurable. However, for the fully immersive experience, gamers will definitely fork out a little extra.
Gaming Chair vs Office Chair: The Verdict
While they are quite similar in structure, gaming chairs and office chairs have striking differences. Office chairs tend to have a simple, subtle design emphasizing comfort over style and aesthetics. Gaming chairs are designed to mimic luxury sports car seats, thus putting more emphasis on style. They have high backs, bucket seats with bright accent colors, embroidered symbols or logos, and brand-oriented covers. In terms of ergonomics, the chairs are neck-and-neck with excellent lumbar support, adjustable seat height, reclining, and adjustable arms. Even so, ergonomic office chairs offer better comfort for productivity and a safer sitting experience in the long term.
So, which chair is right for you? Well, there’s no definitive answer to this question. Office chairs and gaming chairs are designed for two sets of users with very different needs. As such, none can step in the shoes of the other. If you’re a hardcore gamer, go for the Big & Tall Massage Gaming Chair with Footrest or any other gaming chair that meets your needs and matches your budget. Alternatively, if you’re an office worker, consider the Soutien Ergonomic Office Chair for the ultimate sitting experience behind your desk.